2010 Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma St vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead & OSU OT Russell Okung
Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead & OSU OT Russell Okung
Posted Dec 28, 2009

The CFN 2010 Cotton Bowl Preview - Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss

2010 Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Ole Miss (8-4)

Arlington, TX, Jan. 2, 2 pm, Fox

Scroll Down For Bowl Histories & Best Moments

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Team Pages and 2009 Season
Ole MissOklahoma State 


- 2009 CFN Cotton Bowl Preview
- 2008 CFN Cotton Bowl Preview
- 2007 CFN Cotton Bowl Preview
National Rankings
42nd Total Offense 62nd
24th Total Defense 33rd
35th Scoring Offense 35th
17th Scoring Defense 35th
33rd Rushing Offense 24th
55th Run Defense 6th
53rd Passing Offense 94th
16th Passing Defense 93rd
105th Turnover Margin 54th
Position Ratings
relative to each other
OM 5 highest
1 lowest
3.5 Quarterbacks 4
4 RBs 4.5
4 Receivers 3.5
4 O Line 5
4 D Line 4
4 Linebackers 4
4.5 Secondary 3
3.5 Spec Teams 3.5
4 Coaching 4
Cotton Bowl History
2009 Ole Miss 47, Texas Tech 34
2008 Missouri 38, Arkansas 7
2007 Auburn 17, Nebraska 14
2006 Alabama 13, Texas Tech 10
2005 Tennessee 38, Texas A&M 7
2004 Mississippi 31, Oklahoma St 28
2003 Texas 35, LSU 20
2002 Oklahoma 10, Arkansas 3
2001 Kansas State 35, Tennessee 21
2000 Arkansas 27, Texas 6
1999 Texas 38, Mississippi St. 11
1998 UCLA 29, Texas A&M 23
1997 BYU 19, Kansas St. 15
1996 Colorado 38, Oregon 6
1995 USC 55, Texas Tech 14
1994 Notre Dame 24, Texas A&M 21
1993 Notre Dame 28, Texas A&M 3
1992 Florida St. 10, Texas A&M 2
1991 Miami, Fla 46, Texas 3
1990 Tennessee 31, Arkansas 27
1989 UCLA 17, Arkansas 3
1988 Texas A&M 35, Notre Dame 10
1987 Ohio St. 28, Texas A&M 12
1986 Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16
1985 Boston College 45, Houston 28
1984 Georgia 10, Texas 9
1983 SMU 7, Pittsburgh 3
1982 Texas 14, Alabama 12
1981 Alabama 30, Baylor 2
1980 Houston 17, Nebraska 14
1979 Notre Dame 35, Houston 34
1978 Notre Dame 38, Texas 10
1977 Houston 30, Maryland 21
1976 Arkansas 31, Georgia 10
1975 Penn St. 41, Baylor 20
1974 Nebraska 19, Texas 3
1973 Texas 17, Alabama 13
1972 Penn St. 30, Texas 6
1971 Notre Dame 24, Texas 11
1970 Texas 21, Notre Dame 17
1969 Texas 36, Tennessee 13
1968 Texas A&M 20, Alabama 16
1967 Georgia 24, SMU 9
1966 LSU 14, Arkansas 7
1965 Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7
1964 Texas 28, Navy 6
1963 LSU 13, Texas 0
1962 Texas 12, Mississippi 7
1961 Duke 7, Arkansas 6
1960 Syracuse 23, Texas 14
1959 Air Force 0, TCU 0
1958 Navy 20, Rice 7
1957 TCU 28, Syracuse 27
1956 Mississippi 14, TCU 13
1955 Georgia Tech 14, Arkansas 6
1954 Rice 28, Alabama 6
1953 Texas 16, Tennessee 0
1952 Kentucky 20, TCU 7
1951 Tennessee 20, Texas 14
1950 Rice 27, North Carolina 13
1949 SMU 21, Oregon 13
1948 Penn St. 13, SMU 13
1947 Arkansas 0, LSU 0
1946 Texas 40, Missouri 27
1945 Oklahoma St. 34, TCU 0
1944 Randolph Field 7, Texas 7
1943 Texas 14, Georgia Tech 7
1942 Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21
1941 Texas A&M 13, Fordham 12
1940 Clemson 6, Boston College 3
1939 St. Marys 20, Texas Tech 13
1938 Rice 28, Colorado 14
1937 TCU 16, Marquette 6

These were the two hot, relatively new teams coming into the season, and back in August this matchup might have been seen as a possible BCS game. Ole Miss was ranked 8th and Oklahoma State 9th in the AP preseason poll and were 10th and 11th, respectively, in the Coaches' poll, but neither lived up to expectations and neither one had the season anyone thought they'd have.

But the Cotton Bowl is hardly a bad prize at the end of the year and the teams really weren't that bad; they simply weren't as good as advertised.

Oklahoma State at least has a few good excuses. All-America WR Dez Bryant played all of three games before getting suspended for the season thanks to a bizarre and vindictive NCAA ruling. Bryant didn't get in trouble for meeting with Deion Sanders; he got in trouble for lying to the NCAA and saying he didn't meet with Sanders. All-star RB Kendall Hunter hurt his ankle and was never quite right, and the offense that was supposed to be a lock to average 40 points per game struggled to find its explosiveness and consistency.

But even with all of the problems, and a stunning early season home loss to Houston, the Cowboys were in a position to get to the BCS with a 9-2 record and a date with struggling Oklahoma to close out the year. Instead of playing inspired football that would've led to a spot in the Fiesta Bowl and a date with TCU, the Cowboys got stomped in Norman losing 27-0 and gaining just 47 passing yards and 62 on the ground. After getting blasted by Oregon in last year's Holiday Bowl, and with the losses to Texas and Oklahoma this season, this is a program that needs to prove it can win the really big game.

Beating Georgia to start the season appeared to be special, but the Bulldogs turned out to not be very good. Beating Missouri and Texas Tech were nice, but neither game caused much of a ripple on a national scale. A win over Ole Miss would mean a ten-win season, and even after all the problems and all the failed expectations, this would still be successful season.

Ole Miss didn't have the same problems that OSU did. Instead, the Rebels simply didn't play well outside of a brilliant 42-17 destruction of Tennessee. QB Jevan Snead, who was touted as a possible Heisman candidate and a first round NFL draft pick, had a miserable season, the defense wasn't quite as dominant as expected, and the turnovers kept coming and coming. Like Oklahoma State, the Rebels had their chances to make big statements and failed when it seemed like thing were turning around.

They were good enough to beat Tennessee and LSU in back-to-back games, and then they didn't show up in the rivalry game loss at Mississippi State, losing 41-27. They were impressive against Arkansas and clunked against Auburn. The best road win was at Vanderbilt, there was a brutally ugly loss at South Carolina, and all SEC title hopes were gone by mid-October. But there's still plenty of firepower and plenty of talent to get excited about, and if Houston Nutt's club can win a fourth straight bowl game (but the previous two wins came in 2002 and 2004), this will once again be one of the hot teams going into 2010.

While neither team was what everyone hoped for, they should be jacked up to end the season on a high note, and more than that, they really aren't that bad. They're inconsistent, but they each have loads of talent and athleticism and they can each play at a high level when everything is clicking. Ole Miss is going for its eight bowl win in its last nine, while Oklahoma State will try to even the score for the last time the two teams played in the Cotton Bowl, when Eli Manning's Rebels won a 31-28 thriller in 2004. The SEC has won five of the last six Cotton Bowls with the one loss the 2008 Missouri blowout over Arkansas, who was coachless after losing Nutt to Ole Miss. This one should be as competitive and entertaining as any of the matchup this decade.

Players to Watch
: Ole Miss senior RB Dexter McCluster is the one weapon in the game who can win it by himself. A slower, less talented Chris Johnson, the diminutive playmaker isn't built to take a pounding and he'll rarely get the hard yards, but the coaching staff won't be saving him for anything in his final collegiate game and will get the ball to him in a variety of ways, including as a Wildcat quarterback. Often saved for when needed, like in the loss to South Carolina when he was unleashed late and almost pulled out the win, he can carry the ball 25 times, like he did against Tennessee, and isn't a bad receiver out of the backfield catching 39 passes for 475 yards and three scores. He turned on the production over the second half of the season and finished with 985 rushing yards and six scores. He'll be a lock to hit the 1,000-yard mark after the first drive.

If it's possible to get excited about an offensive lineman, Oklahoma State's Russell Okung is one to keep an eye on. A certain first round draft pick and the possible first tackle taken, the 6-5, 302 pounder has been a fixture on all-star teams over the last few years, he's brilliant in pass protection keeping Texas star Brian Orakpo under wraps last year and erasing Texas A&M's Von Miller, the nation's leading sacker, this season. If he can neutralize Kentrell Lockett, an NFL-caliber pass rusher who made five sacks and ten tackles for loss this year, the price tag will go up and he'll be a certain top ten pick.

Before the season, there were some NFL types who threw out Jevan Snead as a possible top overall pick with the size, the talent, and the arm to make scouts drool. When he gets time to set his feet and drive the ball, he can look as good as any quarterback in the country with every throw in the arsenal. But if he has make a quick read, has to improvise, or is under pressure in any way, he'll make major errors and is more than happy to give the ball to the other side with 17 picks on the year including five games with two picks or more. He'll put up yards, but he has to hit 60% of his throws, has to throw more touchdown passes than picks, and he has to get hot early.

Oklahoma State will win if ... the running game works. The Rebel run defense has been fine, but nothing special and was run over by Alabama and run around by QB Joe Webb, who ran for 121 yards and a score, and UAB. Mississippi State and Anthony Dixon were able to tear off 317 yards and two scores, and there was some help from QB Chris Relf, who ran for 131 yards and a score. Kendall Hunter has had time to rest and should finally be healthy enough to play like the All-American he was supposed to be before his ankle gave him problems, but the big key could be Zac Robinson, the teams' second-leading rusher. The senior quarterback ran for 562 yards and eight scores last year, but he was kept under wraps this season rushing for 296 yards and four touchdowns. However, he's not afraid to take off, running 19 times for 99 yards against Texas Tech before getting knocked out, and if he runs for 75 yards or more, OSU will win. The Cowboys are 5-0 this year when they run for 195 yards or more.

Ole Miss will win if ... both the running and passing games click. Oklahoma State can throw, but its bread is buttered by the ground game. Ole Miss can throw, and will, but it's better when McCluster and the running game are controlling the offense. The Rebels have rushed for 20 touchdowns this year with 19 of them coming in the eight wins. The only rushing score in the four losses came against Auburn, but Snead was awful completing 16-of-35 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. McCluster will be the star of the Ole Miss show, but the Rebels can't win unless Snead is decent.

In the eight wins, Snead completed 143-of-209 passes (averaging 68%) with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and in the four losses he completed 51-of-119 (43%) passes with five touchdowns and nine interceptions. He doesn't have to carry the offense, but he has to not be awful while the OSU defense focuses all efforts on McCluster.

What will happen: Oklahoma State has the weapons and the improved defense to get to Snead and force him into some major mistakes. What it doesn't have is an answer for McCluster, who'll run for more than 150 yards and will touch the ball 30 times on his way to becoming one of the stars of the bowl season. Snead will give away two picks and Oklahoma State will take advantage, but the Rebel defensive front will get to Robinson, too, and the Cowboy running game won't be quite enough to overcome two big home runs from McCluster.

CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 31 … Oklahoma State 27 ... Line: Ole Miss -3

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Best Cowboy Bowl Moment: One of the great offensive displays in postseason history, Oklahoma State ambushed Wyoming 62-14 in the 1988 Holiday Bowl. The Cowboys cranked out 698 yards and 34 first downs behind Heisman winner Barry Sanders' 222 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and a near- perfect passing performance from current head coach Mike Gundy.

Best Rebel Bowl Moment: Under legendary head coach Johnny Vaught, Ole Miss made a habit out of playing in big bowl games in the 1950s and 1960s. The most memorable was a 21-0 thumping of LSU in the 1960 Sugar Bowl that avenged a loss to the Tigers during the regular season. The 10-1 Rebels notched their eighth shutout of the season and outgained their SEC rival 363-74.

Oklahoma State Bowl History (12-7)
2008 Holiday Oregon 42, Oklahoma St 31
2007 Insight Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33
2006 Independ. Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31
2004 Alamo Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7
2003 Cotton Mississippi 31, Oklahoma State 28
2002 Houston Oklahoma State 33, Southern Miss 23
1997 Alamo Purdue 33, Oklahoma State 20
1988 Holiday Oklahoma State 62, Wyoming 14
1987 Sun Oklahoma State 35, West Virginia 33
1985 Gator Florida State 34, Oklahoma State 23
1984 Gator Oklahoma State 21, South Carolina 14
1983 Bluebonnet Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 14
1981 Independence Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma State 16
1976 Tangerine Oklahoma State 49, Brigham Young 21
1974 Fiesta Oklahoma State 16, Brigham Young 6
1958 Blue Grass Oklahoma State 15, Florida State 6
1948 Delta William and Mary 20, Oklahoma A&M 0
1945 Sugar Oklahoma A&M 33, St. Mary's 13
1944 Cotton Oklahoma A&M 34, TCU 0
OIe Miss Bowl History (20-12)
2009 Cotton Texas Tech 47, Ole Miss 34
2004 Cotton Ole Miss 31, Oklahoma St 28
2002 Indep. Ole Miss 27, Nebraska 23
2000 Music City West Virginia 49 Ole Miss 38
1999 Indep. Ole Miss 27, Oklahoma 25
1998 Indep. Ole Miss 35, Texas Tech 18
1997 Motor City Ole Miss 34, Marshall 31
1992 Liberty Ole Miss 13,
Air Force 0
1990 Gator Michigan 35,
Ole Miss  3
1989 Liberty Ole Miss 42,
Air Force 29
1986 Indep. Ole Miss 20, Texas Tech 17
1983 Indep. Air Force 9,
Ole Miss 3
1971 Peach Ole Miss 41, Georgia Tech 18
1970 Gator Auburn 35,
Ole Miss 28
1969 Sugar Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 22
1968 Liberty Ole Miss 34, Virginia Tech 17
1967 Sun UTEP 14,
Ole Miss 7
1966 Blueb. Texas 19,
Ole Miss 0
1965 Liberty Ole Miss 13, Auburn 7
1964 Blueb. Tulsa 14,
Ole Miss  7
1963 Sugar Alabama 12,
Ole Miss 7
1962 Sugar Ole Miss 17, Arkansas 13
1961 Cotton Texas 12,
Ole Miss  7
1960 Sugar Ole Miss 14,
Rice 6
1959 Sugar Ole Miss 21,
1958 Gator Ole Miss 7, Florida 3
1957 Sugar Ole Miss 39, Texas 7
1955 Cotton Ole Miss 14,
TCU 13
1954 Sugar Navy 21,
Ole Miss 0
1952 Sugar Georgia Tech 24, Ole Miss 7
1947 Delta Ole Miss 13,
1935 Orange Catholic 20,
Ole Miss 19